Andrew L. Urban.
We report (sourced with thanks from The Australian, May 18, 2022) and comment (in red) on the latest development in this case.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has announced that an inquiry will be held in relation to the case of convicted child killer Kathleen Folbigg.
About time…a sense of urgency is clearly absent in our criminal justice system; when faced with the possibility of a wrongful conviction, the system should be required to accelerate all processes.
Ms Folbigg is serving a 30-year prison sentence following her 2003 conviction for murdering three of her children, Patrick, Sarah and Laura, and for the manslaughter of firstborn Caleb. It comes after a group of 150 medical and scientific experts, including Nobel Prize laureates, called for her to be pardoned and released following the discovery that her two daughters carried a genetic mutation known as CALM 2 G114R.
Scientists believe that the mutation, which is pathogenic, was responsible for the deaths of her children.
This was known in December 2021. Folbigg’s lawyer Rhanee Rego then accused Speakman of failing to act on the evidence “which unequivocally supports innocence” without anything to contradict it. She told Lawyers Weekly that the Attorney is engaged in “state-sanctioned abuse”.
Folbigg was convicted under “Meadow’s Law” which dictates that “one infant death is a tragedy, the second two is suspicious, and the third is murder, until proven otherwise”.
Meadow’s Law is junk science and has been proven to be so.
Mr Speakman said that he had decided to open the public inquiry after a scientific paper had concluded that the mutation could reasonably be the cause of Ms Folbigg’s children’s deaths.
“The conclusion of this paper was that this mutation was a reasonable explanation of the death by natural causes of Ms Folbigg’s two daughters and indeed, a likely explanation for those deaths,” he said.
Why the delay to launch a second inquiry?
Mr Speakman said that he had not pardoned Ms Folbigg outright because the new evidence needed to be tested by the legal system.
The expert testimony will be coming from some of the same scientists who have done the research; their testimony is already on Speakman’s desk. The ritual of another inquiry is a waste of time and money and extends Folbigg’s incarceration. The lawyers are grateful, though …
“I can understand some members of the public may shake their heads and all their disbelief about a number of chances Ms Folbigg has had,” he said. And why it is the justice system has allowed someone who’s been convicted of homicides, multiple homicides, another go?
Here is a nutshell, Speakman reveals the contemptible attitude of the callous and/or misguided politician. We can also understand why some members of the public may shake their heads and all their disbelief about a justice system that doesn’t deliver justice. The public should be outraged.
“But the evidence clearly, in my view, reaches the necessary threshold for some kind of intervention.”
Given the vast volume of expert medical evidence that counters the conviction, well beyond the required threshold of reasonable doubt, the Attorney-General’s ‘intervention’ is too little, too late.
Last year, “To assist the Attorney-General’s understanding of the genetic research, the Australian Academy of Science offered a briefing by some of the world’s leading experts. Mr Speakman declined. Dr Cavanagh and Ms Rego then offered to discuss the case with him, but this was also declined. Ms Rego said this case, and responses from those responsible, “signals an unpreparedness to listen to science”.
“We also need to demand that the legal system work with scientists more closely to allow the most up-to-date and reliable scientific information to be heard in our courts. It shouldn’t be a combative exercise at the post-conviction review level in circumstances in which lawyers, media and activists bring new evidence to light, that the state is unprepared to accept that a mistake is made,” Rego added.
UPDATE: JUNE 25, 2022: The first hearing of the inquiry was held on Friday, June 24, before retired NSW Supreme Court justice Tom Bathurst QC. “This inquiry is not an appeal against conviction,” Justice Bathurst said, cryptically in our view. Hearings will begin in November. This is the fast lane of justice…